Continuing with our celebration of this year’s CALS Award recipients, we are sharing information about the winners of the Louise Hemstead Leadership Award and the Arthur J. and Ellen A. Maurer Extra Mile Award this week.
Julie Dawson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture. Additionally, she is an Integrated Extension Specialist of Urban and Regional Food Systems which is housed in the Department of Agriculture. Since beginning her position, Dawson has strongly demonstrated leadership in several areas related to innovation, cooperation, and sustainability.
Dawson’s position as an Integrated Extension Specialist of Urban and Regional Food Systems was newly created in 2014, with her as the inaugural faculty member to come into that role. Beginning a research, teaching, and Extension program without the foundation of an established program can be a daunting task. This challenged was further heightened by the fact that some groups comprising Dawson’s clientele–urban producers–were outside of those typically served by Extension. She displayed tenacity and perseverance to develop relationships with these individuals, contributing to the resilience of the farms and food systems within their communities.
Research-wise, Dawson has demonstrated innovative approaches that further agriculture’s role in environmental and community stewardship. A significant component of her research program focuses on improving the ability to use genetic resources in plant breeding for new environments, including organic systems and the new environments anticipated with ongoing climate change challenges. Additionally, Dawson has led the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative, which ties together her research and Extension efforts. This new program creates a cooperative network of farmers, plant breeders and chefs to develop better varieties for regional food systems in the Upper Midwest.
Overall, Dawson encompasses everything that this award stands for and is well-deserving of the Louise Hemstead Leadership award.
Theodore J. Halbach
Theodore J. Halbach has been a Faculty Associate in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences since 2013. Halbach has been with the department since 1998, where he has served as the Farm and Industry Short Course Program Direction, Dairy Cattle Evaluation Instructor, and Extension Dairy Youth Specialist.
Halbach is a tireless promotor and recruiter of undergraduates for the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences. He is constantly reaching out to those who he believes can make a positive impact on the dairy industry here at UW–Madison. He believes strongly in the education that students can receive at UW, and he recruits students by sharing first-hand the experiences and opportunities that students and their parents can expect in college and throughout their careers in the dairy industry. To help support these students, Halbach has worked to develop the Production Agriculture Initiative, which ensures that students from rural communities who wish to study in agriculture-related fields receive a second screening of transcripts, extracurricular activities, and career goals before being denied admission.
Additionally, Halbach had developed multiple scholarships for students. Since his arrival at UW, he has gathered over a million dollars to support students. Halbach has established several $5,000 per year “Legacy Scholarships” for students in Animal and Dairy Sciences, established the Darcey Youth Program Enhancement Fund which has contributed over a quarter of a million dollars for dairy youth programs and high-impact undergraduate activities, and established the Dive Dickson Memorial Golf Classic which draws alumni and stakeholders that annually raises tens of thousands of dollars.
Thanks to Halbach’s commitment, effort, and success in youth development, the department’s enrollment has remained steady despite the significant reduction in the number of dairy farms. He exemplifies a faculty member who provides exceptional service and is very worthy of the Arthur J. and Ellen A. Maurer Extra Mile Award.